Texas schools train teachers to accommodate transgender students

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by  Victor Skinner
Victor is a communications specialist for EAG and joined in 2009. Previously, he was a newspaper journalist.

LAREDO, Texas – Two Texas school districts are training staff on special accommodations for transgender students to ensure they feel comfortable on campus.

The Laredo Independent School District and United Independent School District are educating staff and students about transgender issues and working with transgender students to meet their needs, KGNS reports.

Officials are devising special bathroom privileges for transgender teens, for example, and are using the Transgender Education Network of Texas’ focus on “educating, advocating and empowering” transgender students as the model for proper support.

“That’s what we want. We want the students to be a part of that student body to not have to go through bullying situations and so forth and so we want them to have a good experience in the classrooms and in the school environment, period,” UISD spokeswoman Gloria Rendon told the news site.

Another UISD representative, Juan Cruz, strived to stay ahead of transgender issues with specialized teacher training on the topic over the last three years.

“UISK has been kind of leading in this topic. We have been more on the forefront. We started doing transgender training prior to it becoming a national trend so to speak,” Cruz told the KGNS. “We started training our administrators from two years ago and have continued this summer as well.”

Laredo ISD superintendent Marcus Nelson said transgender students have raised issues and the district went to work to address them.

“We have had a couple of students who have expressed a need to have a specialized location for where they go to the restroom, and we’ve been happy to facilitate that because, for us, we value every student we have regardless of their background,” he said.

KGNS did not report how students in UISD or Laredo ISD have responded to the special accommodations and concerns for their transgender classmates, but the issue has generated a lot of controversy in other districts.

At Hillsboro High School in Missouri, about 150 students walked out in protest over transgender student Lila Perry’s demand to use the female bathroom, despite being biologically male, KMOV reports.

Two-thirds of students walk out to oppose Perry’s special privileges, while roughly a third did the same in support.

“There’s a lot of ignorance, they are claiming that they’re uncomfortable. I don’t believe for a second that they are,” Perry told the news site. “I think this is pure and simple bigotry.”

School officials allowed Perry to use a private gender-neutral restroom in previous years, but the senior now believes that’s not good enough.

“I wasn’t hurting anyone (by using the female restroom) and I didn’t want to feel segregated out,” Perry said. “I didn’t want to be in the gender neutral bathroom. I am girl, I should be pushed off to another bathroom.”

Protestors outside the school and others convinced Perry to drop out of gym class to avoid sharing the locker room with female classmates, but she said she has no plans to stop using the female restroom.

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